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Old 01-24-2016, 06:31 PM   #1
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US 101 in N. California

Has anyone driven US 101 from Redwood NP down to San Fran?

I'm traveling from Seattle down to Yosemite later this year and I really want to go down the Oregon coast and stop in Redwood NP on the way. But from Redwood on south 101 looks like it might be a long, slow drive with hills and curves? But cutting across the mountains from Redwood to I5 (like 299to Redding) before heading south looks even worse.

I've been through some significant mountains towing the AS (like Teton pass), but any of these routes from Redwood look like a really long haul through hills and curves! Anyone have any first hand experience with this stretch of 101 or know a good route in this area?

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Old 01-24-2016, 06:33 PM   #2
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Take your time, you will be fine! Beautiful drive!

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Old 01-24-2016, 06:46 PM   #3
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Many, many times and it is not bad at all. Highway 1 down the Coast to San Francisco is a totally different story.
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:24 PM   #4
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Multiple times with trailer - a pleasant drive until you get close to SF. Plan a route around the city. The hills and curves on 101 are not at all problematic. I'd highly recommend taking the loop road off of 101 called the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, 4 miles S of Klamath and 6 miles N of Orick. The 10 mile drive thru the Prairie Creek redwoods passes some of the largest and oldest trees on earth. There are many pullouts and trailheads, an easy drive with a trailer. There are nice campgrounds in Trinidad, just south of here, to use as a base for multi-day trips to the redwoods.
And you'll not be disappointed driving 101 on the OR coast. Much to see along the whole route, but I'm partial to the S coast area just north of Bandon. Plenty of pullouts for a trailer along here as well.
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:33 PM   #5
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Oops! That should have read "just north of Brookings" - not Bandon. The area runs from north of Harris Beach State Park up to Pistol River.
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Old 01-24-2016, 09:06 PM   #6
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I just made that trip from Coos Bay, OR through the San Francisco Bay Area in September. This is about the 4th time towing my Airstream on that route and I have driven it and towed other trailers on it many other times as well. It's a beautiful drive. There are some twisty sections, but it's all good road and 4 lanes in some areas and South of Willits. Hwy 299 is very twisty, long and slow and follows the Trinity river for much of the drive.

The heavier traffic starts around Santa Rosa, CA and continues through the Bay Area so timing is important to avoid the worst traffic. If you are going through San Francisco, do not take 101 through the City as it goes right through the congested downtown. If I were going to Yosemite, I would probably cut over from Hwy 101 on the North side of the Bay Area to Hwy 116 at Petaluma to Hwy 12 and then over to Hwy 99 and South to Hwy 140.
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Old 01-24-2016, 09:13 PM   #7
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We went right through S.F. Not a problem at all. Highway signs are clearly marked. You will be fine...enjoy the trip.

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Old 01-24-2016, 09:32 PM   #8
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We did this exact trip last February / March, had a lovely time. Incredibly scenic as we drove along the headlands. Trip starts here:
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Old 01-24-2016, 09:37 PM   #9
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Another alternative would be to take highway 101 to highway 20 east to I 5. This takes you by Clear Lake, which is a pleasant drive, and is far enough north of the Bay Area to avoid that congestion. Then take I 5 to Sacramento, and highway 99 south to Fresno, or wherever you want to cut over to Yosemite. I can't imagine any way to get from Williams to Fresno that is not flat and boring, so bring some books on tape or something.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:15 PM   #10
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I live here and driven that way many times. Here's what you do for the flattest straightest route. Drive down 101 south past Willits then about 10 or so miles south turn left onto highway 20. Highway 20 is fairly level and will take you to I-5. For there go south to Sacramento.

South of Sacramento there lots of construction on I-5, especially through Stockton. Consider driving down Route 99. It's parallel to I-5 and a freeway just like I-5. Off highway 99 turn onto route 120 which heads to Yosemite.
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Old 01-24-2016, 10:48 PM   #11
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As everyone says, HW101 is not difficult. The Avenue of the Giants parallels 101 above and below RWNP. It is a very tight two lane road, but an absolutely must see. Suggest you drop the trailer for the drive.

Enjoy your trip. It's an opportunity for new smiles. Pat
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Old 01-25-2016, 11:45 AM   #12
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I live in Brookings...the farthest town south on the Oregon coast... and am originally from San Diego county so we've made the trip many times. Don't take 299. It's steep windy and gets snow on the highest parts. I know the map apps tell you it's the shortest. My brothers have gotten sucked into that problem. It's my least favorite route. We like to go 101 to the Clear Lake road mentioned above. The speeds are a little slower but it's pretty and flat.
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Old 01-25-2016, 11:54 AM   #13
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My wife and I made this trip in January last year, on our way to Arizona. Loved the drive. We stayed in Jeddidiah NP amoungst the redwoods. We even drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, with my wife hanging out the sun roof with my camera to get a picture of Pearl on the bridge.
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Old 01-25-2016, 12:27 PM   #14
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Plan-B route = CA State Hiwy 20 (just north of Ukiah on US 101) will take you to all the way Williams (and I-5) in the Sacramento Valley. You'll travel the length of Clear Lake along the way.


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